By Gavin Day
THE CANADIAN PRESS
HOUSTON _ Christine Sinclair added to her legacy as one of the greatest ever in women’s soccer on Sunday.
Sinclair scored a milestone goal to help lift the Canada to a 6-0 rout of Trinidad and Tobago at the 2016 CONCACAF women’s Olympic qualifying tournament.
The second-half marker _ the 159th international goal of Sinclair’s career _ moved her ahead of American Mia Hamm into second place on the all-time international goal scoring list. American Abby Wambach is first with 184.
“It’s so nice to get it off my back,” said Sinclair. “It’s been a couple games without scoring a goal and it kept weighing on me a little bit and you guys are continually asking me about it. So it’s nice to get it out of the way and allow my team to focus on our focus for this tournament, which is qualifying for the Olympics.”
Diana Matheson, Melissa Tancredi, Kadeisha Buchanan, Jessie Fleming and Janine Beckie also scored for the Canadians, who took their second win in as many games and moved into first place in Group B of the competition.
The win also moved Canada into the tournament’s semifinals where it’ll play for a spot in the Rio Olympics next Friday. Before that, they conclude the group stage against Guatemala on Tuesday night.
“Today we really wanted to show that we’re here to play and also to get our berth in the semifinal, which was the most important thing that’s we’ve been planning and working towards,” said head coach John Herdman. “We’ve been managing the squad well and had some standout performances from some of our young players that stepped in.”
Matheson’s goal, at the 24th minute, and Tancredi’s at the 42nd, gave Canada a 2-0 lead at halftime.
Matheson was sprung by Josee Belanger and had space on the right side of the Canadian attack. Trinidad goalkeeper Kimika Forbes left a large opening at the short side and Matheson took advantage of that with a low shot that snuck under Forbes as she was trying to get back into position.
But the day belonged to Sinclair, who earned the praises of her teammates as she moved ahead of Hamm, another icon of the women’s game.
“It’s kind of surreal to be able to say I played with her all these years. We grew up watching Mia Hamm,” said Matheson. “Mia Hamm was just so big and such an amazing player and now Christine’s past her and I have no doubt she’s going to pass Abby eventually.”
Canada was rarely under pressure but Trinidad and Tobago had a handful of moments on the counter-attack.
In the 31st minute, Desiree Scott gave the ball away just outside the Canadian penalty area and Mariah Shade was playing in with only goalkeeper Erin McLeod to beat. McLeod rushed off her line, cut down the angle and managed to catch Shade’s shot and not give up a rebound.
“I think the players had the mindset of doing the job and I think there’s an intense focus around getting that job done in the game and getting it put to bed as early as we can,” said Herdman. “We always thought there was a transitional threat and I think they had one opportunity where McLeod came up big but outside of that I just thought the girls had a real focus on getting the result.”
Tancredi’s goal was her first in almost four years. Midfielder Ashley Lawrence crossed in from the left side and an unmarked Tancredi headed it in from close range.
Sinclair came on just over 15 minutes into the second half and made an immediate impact, scoring two minutes after she was introduced.
Fleming gave Canada the 6-0 lead in the 80th minute after Beckie scored five minutes earlier when she capitalized on a goalkeeper mistake.